Cleaning Up Photo Files

Digital cameras have undoubtedly made a great impact in my life. It's cheap and relatively easy to capture all of my important (and banal) life moments, sometimes in duplicate or triplicate.

After our travels last year and the wedding, I've amassed over 9,000 from the last two years and have over 16,000 photos over the last decade or so.

How many other people take dozens of pictures only to leave them languishing on a memory card or computer never to be seen again?  Blogging has helped with this some because I've been able to share some of them here, but for every picture I've shared there are probably 10 that I haven't.

To combat this, I've decided to go through every photo on my hard drive and delete any bad photos or near repeats.  Thankfully all of my photos were already well organized as I keep them sorted into folders by year, month, and event with the exception of my college years, which are more awkwardly organized since they span calendar years.

Deleting crappy photos has been much more time consuming that I ever thought, and it was hard go through all of them because they're all so sentimental.  Even though I've gotten rid of over 6400 photos (40% of my photo collection!) not one of my event folders was emptied completely.  It's so much easier to enjoy them now that there are fewer old photos and way fewer repeats.  It also makes all the memories that much happier because I'm not coming across bad photos that make me grimace.

Right now I've worked up to September 2010, but that still leaves nearly 6,000 photos to go through.  When all is said and done I want to take all of the photos that are left and make photo books for each year, but I think that's a project for 2013 because that's going to take an immense amount of effort to do.

Meet Stanley

Just over three years ago, I bought my first camera, a Canon Powershot SX10S and marveled for the first time learning how to control all of the various settings to produce beautiful images.

This was one of the first pictures I took with the sx10.  Needless to say, I've improved a bit since then, and Steve got a haircut.

By this time last year, I was ready to upgrade to a dSLR.  I'd learned a lot of basics and really no longer consider myself a beginner, but living in Saudi Arabia made that essentially impossible.  So I sucked it up and waited.  For a year.  It wasn't a totally wasted year though; I spent more time than I care to admit pouring over camera reviews, debating the merits of Canons vs. Nikons, and bouncing all of this off Allie.  At the end of it all, only one camera emerged victorious.  One of the biggest reasons I wanted/needed to upgrade is to have less noise at higher ISOs (when shooting in low light).  The picture above has a ton of noise and is only at iso 320.

I've been saving hard earned pennies for the last few months and was finally able to order my new camera, a Canon EOS 60D, or Stanley as he prefers to be called.

Catbear rocks out on the bathroom rug a lot these days.  I really can't blame her; this is the softest rug I've ever had.  Stanley does a great job in low light.  This is iso 2000 and there's no evidence of noise.  Hooray!   It's also infinitely easier to control manual focusing with Stanley, which was nearly impossible with the sx10.

I've still got a few accessories I'd like to get, but those will have to wait until after I start my new job in January.

More Cabin Time

We've made several trips down to the cabin lately and each one results in so much progress.  Last time we were down there the goal was to get the extension under roof, which promptly became impossible when the generator started leaking gas.  With a fixed generator and a few extra pairs of hands, we set off a couple weekends ago to give the roof another go.

Mom looking anxiously towards the open roof.

First roof joist is up (but not attached)

Steve working hard.

It was flipping cold that weekend and with no electricity, Allie and I spent a good deal of the day huddling around the kerosene heater trying to stay warm.

Allie spent a lot of time playing this iPod game, so much so that it killed the battery.

Thankfully, I brought my awesome hat, which proceeded to keep me much warmer than I thought possible. A small tree was leaning into the roof space so the sawzall and I became good friends hacking it down.



There's even a tiny pile of wood for a future bonfire!

When they put up the barn siding last time, they covered the windows and door, so Steve had to cut openings for all of them.

Yay for extra help!


Another roof joist waiting to go up.





After a lot of work, we (the guys) were making great progress on the roof.  We only had to go to the hardware store once for more plywood.  I was all over that trip because it involved a heated car and it was awesome.  I almost didn't get out of the car after that.


Cookie break!

OH NO looks like someone lost a head.

They even got the tar paper stuff down on the roof before it was time to go.

If everything had gone as planned, we would have gotten the door and the windows in too before leaving for the weekend, but as we're all learning, nothing goes as planned when it comes to this little project.  It turns out that none of the windows actually fit in the window holes, which is a wee bit embarrassing, but not unfixable.  All of the windows are going to have to be a smidge taller by redoing the supports under the windows.  However, that is a project for another day, and we ended by covering all of the window and door holes with plastic sheeting to keep out the elements.

I wish that was the end of the adventure, but alas it wasn't.  We had an outrageously long trip back because we had to stop numerous times for Allie to get sick.  Turns out she had some kind of 24 stomach bug that decided to hit as soon as we got in the car.

Camera Envy

I doubt that many or any of you noticed the improved photo quality from our previous post about poor Algebra, but to me the improvement is significant.  I've been using a mid/high end point and shoot since 2008 and have strongly been contemplating an upgrade to a dSLR.  One of the benefits of having a photography major for a sister is that I got to test drive her dSLR a Canon EOS Rebel T2i with an f1.8 prime lens when we were back in Ohio last week. For the last few months (ie a year) I've been trying to rationalize a camera upgrade and I foolishly thought that some aspects I was lacking were a result of technical skill instead of not equipment, but after using a significantly better camera, I can tell that I was wrong.  After figuring out the basics of the controls it didn't take long before I was shooting like I have wanted to for months.

Yes these are just feet, but the control over depth of field (the sharpness and blur) is what I've been looking for and just can't get from my current camera.

Another example of Allie's awesome camera.

I'm certain now that a camera upgrade is in the imminent future, but I do suppose that it should wait until after we've settled into our new apartment (still not found yet).  I've narrowed it down to either the Canon EOS 60D or the Canon EOS Rebel T3i.  Until then I'll just have to settle for a serious case of camera envy.

Canvas Photo

About a month ago, I delved into the world of Groupon when I bought a coupon thingy to buy a discounted 16x20 photo canvas.  While I have until October to use it, I hope to get it ordered in the next few weeks.  Now comes the hard part, picking a photo to have printed!  I've narrowed it down to 10 choices, most from our travels or the wedding, but I thought it'd be interesting to get your opinion about what we should hang on our wall (when we get a wall to hang it on of course).  So, which photo do you think we should have printed?

Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy


Temple of Poseidon, Sunion, Greece

Pompey's Pillar, Alexandria, Egypt

Water treatment plant, on campus

Engagement photo

Wedding Photo 1

Wedding Photo 2

Wedding Photo 3

Wedding Photo 4

So, what's the verdict?

Stitching, Photos That Is

One of the great (or not so great) aspects of digital cameras is all of the preset modes.  They've predefined what they think it takes to make good portraits, landscapes, fireworks, snow, foliage, and action shots, which are all well and good, but in my opinion the best preset mode is the stitch assist on my Canon.  With this I can line up shots and then combine them into one image later.  You can actually do this without the preset mode, but if you use the setting, the file names are different for the stitched photos making them really easy to find.

Taking photos to make a panorama is pretty simple, but somehow despite having this camera since 2008, I have never once taken the images and made the panoramas from them.  Last week I realized how easy it was to do in Photoshop, and decided the wait was over.


If you click on the panoramas, it should open the image in its larger size.
This is the first one I did here on campus.  This is the harbor; in the distance you can see the beacon on the right, and the research buildings on the left.  Considering I had no idea what I was doing, I'm not terribly disappointed with how this turned out.  Not everything is lined up quite as well as I'd like, but the effect is there.


This is an incredibly old shot from when Steve and I spent Spring Break 2009 backpacking and camping in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.  This is from Druid's Arch, which if I recall was quite the hike/climb to get to, but the view was worth it.


This was the view from Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, and one of the first great views we had as soon as we got there.